Elite figures arrested by Saudi authorities in the capital Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton hotel in 2017 amid the “biggest purge” in the country’s history have revealed details about their imprisonment, according to reports released by the Guardian newspaper, Anadolu Agency reported.
The former detainees, including senior Saudi businessmen, told reporters that they were exposed to human rights abuses including torture and coercion in Saudi jails and that their assets had been seized as part of the campaign.
Alleging that they had suffered beatings and intimidation by security officers under the instruction of two ministers close to Saudi Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman, the former prisoners spoke three years after the purge and ahead of the G20 summit in Riyadh this weekend.
Many human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, urged the leaders of G20 countries to speak up against human rights violations in Saudi Arabia.
Riyadh assumed the presidency of the G20 in December 2019 and will chair a virtual Leaders’ Summit on Nov. 21-22.
In November 2017, Salman launched an anti-corruption campaign that saw scores of royals, ministers and businessmen detained in the capital’s Ritz-Carlton hotel.
Most were later released after reaching unspecified financial settlements with the authorities.
Since then, bin Salman, who has also faced harsh criticism for his alleged role in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, has consolidated his grip on power.
“This was about consolidating his rule, plain and simple. It came before the Khashoggi atrocity, and the fact that he got away with it allowed him to do the latter,” one of the sources told the Guardian.
“The same guards involved in the Ritz were involved in the Khashoggi killing,” the source claimed.
Khashoggi, a US resident and columnist for The Washington Post, went missing after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on Oct. 2, 2018.
After initially saying Khashoggi had left the consulate alive, the Saudi administration admitted weeks later that he was killed there, blaming a rogue group of Saudi operatives.
The CIA reportedly determined with confidence that bin Salman directed Khashoggi’s murder.